Obviously I am a big fan of synthesisers, it is after all how I got my name! So it gives me great pride to present to you perhaps the most unusual synthesiser of them all, the Oramics Machine.
Designed by Daphne Oram in 1957, the Oramics Machine uses strips of 35mm film that shapes can be drawn on to create sound. The shapes modulated light that was then captured by photocells and, well, I can’t really explain the science, but pictures make the sounds! There is only one Oramics Machine in the entire world and it will soon be on display in the London Science Museum, book your tickets I guess.
This post is MASSIVE. Lots of new books, you see.
Thyla, by Kate Gordon (279 pages) – Amnesia, Tasmania, and identity; these are the three subject headings for this book which I think might have an element of the paranormal? Some girls are missing from a school, and it’s all a bit mysterious; the protaganist, Tessa, was found in the bush, living feral and without memory of who she was. Anyway! It gets a glowing review on Amazon. And a sequel is on the way.
First lines: ‘My name is Tessa. It was the one thing I knew for certain. the one word that stood lonely in my head when the lights were turned on.‘
Cloaked, by Alex Finn (341 pages) – This is by the author of Beastly (recently released as a film) and, similarly, is a modern retelling of a fairy tale. Teenager Johnny, who repairs shoes in Miami, is asked by a princess (or someone named Princess? I need to research more) for help to find her brother who has been turned into a toad. That’s like two fairy tales right there.
First lines: ‘I’ve never seen a princess before. And it looks like I won’t be seeing one today either.‘
Recovery Road, by Blake Nelson – A pair of teenaged addicts meet up in rehab, and form a relationship that they try to continue once they’re out again. Of course, both have inner demons and so their relationship is put to the test. Will it last? Will they stay on the wagon?
First lines: ‘You can’t tell what Spring Meadow is from the road. The sign, nestled beneath a large oak tree, could be for a retirement village.’
Phantoms in the Snow, by Kathleen Benner Duble (226 pages) – Newly orphaned Noah, whose parents raised him to be a pacifist, is sent to live with his uncle. He – the uncle – lives on an army base in Colorado, where a division of winter warfare soldiers train. They are called Phantoms, as you can’t see them in the snow. Oh and it’s 1944! So Noah needs to ‘resolve his upbringing with the horrors of World War II’ while on an army base and on the front lines in Italy.
First line: ‘Noah Garrett sat on the kitchen chair and listened to the rhythmic ticking of the hall clock echoing through the nearly empty rooms of his house and to the two lowered voices coming from behind the hastily shut door, the minister’s gentle and quiet, his neighbour’s shrill and determined.‘
Throat, R. A. Nelson (453 pages) – Emma is seventeen and has epilepsy, and her seizures are unpredictable and often. She’s lost friends and can’t even legally drive. One unexpected benefit (I guess?) is that when she’s attacked by a vampire, a seizure prevents him from killing her, and she escapes. Now she has all the powers of a vampire but without having to avoid sunlight or drink blood. The original vampire is determined to make a meal of her, though, and Emma must prepare … for a fight to the death!
First line: ‘When I was thirteen, I ran away from home because of a curse.‘
Corsets & Clockwork : 13 Steampunk Romances, edited by Trisha Telep (437 pages) – Imagine the Victorian era, but with high tech and technomagical machinery, and ‘feisty heroines and genius inventors, supernatural outcasts and idealistic heroes’. Hold that image. Now, add a little romance, and there you have it! Steampunk romance.
First line: ‘There are millions of stories in the Clockwork City; here are thirteen of them.‘
Shadowspell, by Jenna Black (295 pages) – This is the second installment in the Faeriewalker series (the first is Glimmerglass). Aaaaaand here’s what the catalogue says; ‘on top of spending most of her time in a bunkerlike safe house and having her dates hijacked by a formidable Fae bodyguard, Faeriewalker Dana Hathaway is in for some more bad news: the Erlking and his pack of murderous minions known as the Wild Hunt have descended upon Avalon.’ Uh oh!
First line: ‘Going on a date with a bodyguard hanging over your shoulder sucks.‘
Crossing the Tracks, by Barbara Stuber (258 pages) – Missouri, 1926, and fifteen-year-old Iris is hired out to be a companion and housekeeper for an elderly woman. Alone, and stuck in the ‘gritty rural’ country, where a nearby farmer is menacing everyone, she finds herself and learns to ‘trust, hope, and – ultimately – love’.
First lines: ‘I’m under Mama’s coffin. My little house in the centre of the parlour has silky black curtain walls and a hard ceiling that I can touch with the top of my head if I sit cross-legged and stretch my neck.’
Entwined, by Heather Dixon (472 pages) – After their mother dies, Princess Azalea and her 11 princess sisters are locked in a castle to mourn her death. Each night they join The Keeper for a dance in a magical silver forest, accessible via a magical passage. But soon they discover that he likes to keep things. The clue’s in the name, your highnesses!
First line: ‘ An hour before Azalea’s first ball began, she paced the ballroom floor, tracing her toes in a waltz.‘
Demonglass, by Rachel Hawkins (359 pages) – Sophie thought she was just a witch, but she is actually a demon, and her powers threaten everyone. SO she heads to London in an attempt to have her powers removed. The Eye, the organisation out to rid the world of ‘Prodigum’ (i.e. magic users, faeries, and shapeshifters) are also on her tail. Her pointy devil tail. (Made that up.)
First line: ‘At a normal high school, having class outside on a gorgeous May day is usually pretty awesome.’
What Happened to Goodbye, by Sarah Dessen (402 pages) – Mclean and her father are always on the move, going from town to town and from school to school. At each stop she reinvents herself, but now, at Lakeview, she’s trying to be just herself. Mclean. Not anyone else. Partly because she meets and falls for Colgate (just kidding! his name is Dave) and he falls for the real Mclean, whoever that is. Are your Mcleans showing?
First line: ‘The table was sticky, there was a cloudy smudge on my water glass, and we’d been seated for ten minutes with no sign of a waitress.‘
Bumped, by Megan McCafferty (232 pages) – It is the future! And all people over 18 are infertile. As a consequence, teen girls are paid to conceive and give birth to peoples’ kids, and teens become the most prized members of society. Twins Melody and Harmony, were separated at birth; Melody has an ‘enviable conception contract’ and Harmony believes ‘pregging for profit’ is a sin. But they soon find they have more in common than just DNA.
First lines: ‘I’m sixteen. Pregnant. And the most important person on the planet.‘
The Marbury Lens, by Andrew Smith (358 pages) – This seems complex! So here’s the catalogue summary; ‘Sixteen-year-old Jack is kidnapped. He escapes, narrowly. The only person he tells is his best friend, Conner. When they arrive in London for summer break, a stranger hands Jack a pair of glasses. Through the lenses, he sees another world called Marbury.’
(Fantastic!) first line: ‘I guess in the old days, in other places, boys like me usually ended up twisting and kicking in the empty air beneath gallows.‘
Timeless, by Alexandra Monir (290 pages) – Michele’s parents die (lots of orphans this week!) and she is sent to live with her rich-but-distant grandparents in New York. She discovers a diary which transports her back to 1910. Literally!
First line: ‘Michele stood alone in the centre of a hall of mirrors.‘
Now over to Grimm for mooooooore new books.
Keep Sweet, by Michele Dominguez Greene (215 pages) – Alva Jane’s family are Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints, and it’s a rather large family: 29 brothers and sisters, and a father with seven wives. She doesn’t question her life, until she’s caught innocently kissing her crush and is forced into a marriage to a fifty year old man.
First sentence: ‘I closed my eyes at the memory of Joseph John’s face, flushed with excitement as he whispered those words to me – the words that changed my life forever.’
Stay, by Deb Caletti (313 pages) – Clara is caught in an unhealthy obsessive relationship with Christian, until she escapes and leaves town. Noone knows where she is, but she is still unable to feel safe, fearing he might find her.
First sentence: ‘First off, I’ve never told this story to anyone.’
Jenna & Jonah’s Fauxmance, by Emily Franklin & Brendan Halpin (229 pages) – Charlie and Fielding are stars of the show Jenna & Jonah’s How to Be a Rock Star, and it’s a raging hit. Part of the charm of the show is Charlie and Fielding’s “relationship”, so they are to hold hands and kiss and whatnot when they’re out in public. Trouble is, they hate each other. Then when a paparazzo gets hold of a rumour that could ruin everything for them and they have to lie low for a while they finally get to find out more about each other: will this be a good thing or an even worse thing?
First sentence: ‘I will never like a boy like Fielding Withers (and, yes, I know I used the word “like” twice in one sentence, but meaning different things).’
Between Shades of Gray, by Ruta Sepetys (338 pages) – In 1941 in Lithuania Lina and her mother and brother are captured by Soviet guards and shipped off to Siberia, not knowing if they will see their father again (and it’s thousands and thousands of kilometres). The story is based on first hand accounts of survivors of the Siberian deportations.
First sentence: ‘They took me in my nightgown.’
The Ghoul Next Door, by Lisi Harrison (241 pages) – from the author of The Clique series, this is the first in the Monster High series. “Freak is the new chique” says the back cover! Cleopatra De Nile is used to being in charge at Merston High, but now there’s Frankie Stein and Melody Carver to contend with: her popularity is seriously in danger, but then Frankie and Melody have their own issues as well.
First sentence: ‘The amber-infused air snapped with anxiety.’
Livvie Owen Lived Here, by Sarah Dooley (229 pages) – Livvie is autistic and has frequent outbursts, causing trouble for her family: her destructive tendencies mean they’re constantly on the move. When they are faced again with eviction, Livvie decides to search out the house where she felt happy: “The problem is, Livvie burned down that house” says the cover.
First sentence: ‘I heard the whistle blast at 9.15.’
Librarians are not known for their trendiness. Sure there’s a certain cliched look – glasses, cardigans, sensible shoes - that we’re known for and I’m not going to dispute that that look still continues to live on in some libraries. But look a little deeper and you’ll see we’re actually a very stylish bunch. And, as you might expect, its all about the details.
The perfect pair of worn in boat shoes.
What do you think? Have you ever seen a stylish librarian?!
It IS Wednesday, sure, but I was on a course yesterday, and ‘Trailer Wednesday’ lacks alliteration. And today it will also lack content.
What’s this movie? You’ll be like, “is this some kind of rom-com nightmare?” But then about half-way through it all changes in a quite funny way! I won’t spoil it. Just watch it.
Ta daa! The end.
Terry Pratchett has won the Andre Norton Award for young adult science fiction and fantasy writing for I Shall Wear Midnight. I Shall Wear Midnight is the fourth book featuring Tiffany Aching, the others being The Wee Free Men, A Hat Full of Sky and Wintersmith.
A box of chocolates: horror, angels, love triangles, the origins of a New York icon, memoirs of addiction, high fantasy, gritty realism, dramas, and short stories, oh and chimpanzees again!
We All Fall Down: Living With Addiction, and Tweak: Growing Up On Methamphetamines, by Nic Sheff – Two memoirs with rave reviews on the subject of drug addiction, and companions to the book Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction by David Sheff. On Tweak: “The author details his immersion in a world of hardcore drugs, revealing the mental and physical depths of addiction, and the violent relapse one summer in California that forever changed his life, leading him down the road to recovery.” (Library catalogue)
Half Brother, Kenneth Oppel (377 pages) – Oh fab! Ben’s father is a behavioural scientist, and on Ben’s 13th birthday, Zan comes to live with the family, as an experiment: Zan is a chimpanzee. Cool, you’d think. Well yes indeed!, although having a chimpanzee for a half-brother can have its hairy moments, and then when things start going wrong can Ben save Zan? (From what, I want to know, hoping it’s not horrible, and that it has a happy ending like the Chimpanzee movie.)
First sentence: This is how we got Zan.
Angry Young Man, Chris Lynch (167 pages) – Xan (not to be confused with Zan) is an angry young man, becoming increasingly involved in hard-core activism and groups of anarchists. Robert, his older brother, is completely different, steady and together. But when Xan appears to spiral out of control will Robert be able to rescue him, and is Robert such a solid, dependable hero anyway?
First sentence: I want you to understand my brother.
Huntress, Malinda Lo (371 pages) – High fantasy (complete with map) inspired by the I Ching, and prequel (by several centuries) to Ash, in Huntress the human kingdom is suffering: the sun never shines and strange creatures have begun appearing. Two seventeen year old girls are chosen to go on a dangerous journey to save the kingdom. Along the way they fall in love, but then it becomes clear that there should only be one Huntress saviour: will they be torn apart?
First sentence: She saw a beach made of ice, and she felt her heart breaking.
Summer and the City, Candace Bushnell (409 pages) – sequel to The Carrie Diaries and therefore also prequel to Sex and the City. Carrie’s having a good summer, enjoying the shopping, the parties, and the men the Big Apple provide, plus she’s in a writing class learning what will become her trade. During the summer she will meet two of her BFFs, Samantha and Miranda, and become more Carrie Bradshaw-ish.
First sentence: First Samantha asks me to find her shoe.
Dramarama, E Lockhart (305 pages) – Sadye (Sarah) and Demi (Douglas) become instant best friends when they meet at the auditions for a prestigious drama camp. When they both get in things look exciting – the chance to study under one of New York’s leading directors, for example, but it’s drama camp in more ways than one: can their friendship survive?
First sentence: Transcript of a microcassette recording: Demi: Is it on?
We’ll Always Have Summer, Jenny Han (291 pages) – the conclusion to the trilogy that began with The Summer I Turned Pretty. Belly and Jeremiah have been together for two years. Things should be happily ever after, but they aren’t really. Belly has unresolved feelings for Conrad, and when Jeremiah proposes marriage she must choose between the two, possibly breaking one of their hearts in the process. Obviously you must read this if you’ve read the others! And bring a hankie!
First sentence: On Wednesday nights when I was little, my mom and I would watch old musicals.
The Saga of Larten Crepsley: Ocean of Blood, Darren Shan (247 pages) – The prequel to Cirque Du Freak, where you get to learn more about Larten: what he was like as a teenager, rebelling against vampire authorities and hitting the road with his brother, leaving a trail of human destruction behind them. But are there dangers for him in this wanton, destructive lifestyle?
First sentence: The vampire known as Quicksilver threw a knife high into the smoke-clogged air of the tavern.
Fallen Angel, Heather Terrell (310 pages) – Ellie is shy and withdrawn around everyone except her friend Ruth, until she meets Michael. Together, she and Michael discover they have a similar secret: otherworldly powers, which will come in handy when they’re pitched into the eternal conflict, the battle between good and evil.
First sentence: I watched my curtains billow in the early autumn wind that wafted through my opened bedroom window.
Virgin Territory, Jame Lecesne (218 pages) – Set around the time of September 11 2001. Dylan’s father moves the family from New York to a small Florida town after the death of his mother. Dylan finds himself drifting through summer, losing a sense of his future while his past – and memories of his mother – appears to fade. When the Blessed Virgin Mary is sighted in town, interesting new arrivals bring a new perspective for Dylan: can he forge ahead and carve out a new future for himself?
First sentence: I’m staring out the passenger window of Doug’s banged-up Ford Explorer as we speed along I-95.
The Kissing Game: Short Stories, Aidan Chambers (215 pages) – including several pieces of flash fiction, which we like as a concept. The cover says, “In these sixteen short stories, acclaimed author Aidan Chambers examines moments of truth in which a conversation or an event suddenly reveals a surprising, sometimes life-altering meaning.”
First sentence (’Cindy’s Day Out’): Enough! she said to herself.
Here’s some links for lovers of young adult dystopian fiction: has it overtaken supernatural romance as the YA genre of choice?
- Love and Dystopia: a new sub genre? There’s been a new influx of novels exploring social issues for teenage girls living in dystopian environments (Matched by Allie Condie, XVI by Julia Karr, Delirium by Lauren Oliver, Bumped by Megan McCafferty for example). We like sub-genres. The New York Times looked at this theme recently.
- The Hunger Games movie: more anticipated than Twilight? The internets is awash with discussion of casting for the Hunger Games movie (due out in the first half of next year): just plug “hunger games casting controversy” into your preferred search engine. The major casting controversy (a blonde actor as Katniss???) might be put to rest soon, with her appearance in costume on the cover of the latestEntertainment Weekly*. See the cover here (what do you think?). EW also has a special Hunger Games Central site here. Incidentally, The Hunger Games made an appearance on the list of 10 most challenged books in the USA in 2010 (although it wasn’t as un-popular as Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, and And Tango Makes Three is still rocking it at number one).
- Back to the New York Times, here’s a debate they hosted about dystopian fiction, featuring authors like Scott Westerfeld (Uglies etc), Paolo Bacigalupi (author of Ship Breaker), and Maggie Stiefvater (currently not a writer of dystopian fiction).
* We have Entertainment Weekly in the young adult magazine collection, so you’ll be able to borrow the Hunger Games issue for free very soon!
Ahh, musicians are so stylish aren’t they? How? Why?
This is Mos Def, my fave rap superstar, talking about his Brooklyn-prepster style.
And, if you’re interested in an interesting, quirky, menswear tumblr, check out Freemans Sporting Gifs. Now Gifs normally freak me out (don’t know why), but here they’re put to good and hilarious use.
Oohh, and this fashion fest happened this week . I’m not too keen on the Rhianna-esque hair, but I love the Givenchy dress.
Every year around this time the American TV networks announce what they’ve got planned for the new season, then the world gets to see what American shows will be wending their ways to their tellies and computers over the next few months. Here’s a selection!
Grimm (excellently named) is from the producers of Buffy and Angel. The premise is that a policeman in an American town learns he’s the last descendant of the Grimms, a family of bad fairy tale creature hunters: suddenly he can see normal-looking citizens for what they really are, shape-shifters up to no good. Here’s a trailer:
Similarly, Once Upon a Time, from the Lost writers, is about a town full of fairy tale characters who think they’re normal folks and don’t realise their true identities (which will be revealed to them in good time). Here’s the trailer. You might like to brush up on your fairy tale knowledge: here are the offerings from the brothers Grimm, or you can download Grimm’s Fairy Tales for free from Project Gutenberg here.
The Secret Circle follows in the steps of The Vampire Diaries, being based on the book series by L J Smith (read the books first: they’re in the library!). Sixteen year old Cassie moves with her mother to New Salem, and discovers that she’s a part of a coven of witches. Read a bit more here.
There is also Napoleon Dynamite, an animated series based on the very successful movie of the same name ($4.00 from the general DVD collection), an excellent example of when geek chic goes all pear shaped.
Plenty to look forward to.
Last night the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Award Winners were announced. Fleur Beale’s Fierce September won the Young Adult category and Leon Davidson won in the Non Fiction category with Zero Hour: The ANZACs on the Western Front.
Fierce September is the sequel to Juno of Taris (which won the Esther Glen award) but you don’t need to have read the first book to enjoy this fine story. It’s set in a dystopian future and much of the action occurs in Wellington.
Zero Hour is set on the Western Front during WWI. It’s an honest portrayal of an horrific time and place, that we don’t usually hear much about. It’s a fascinating, sad and compelling read.